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2019 High Heat
National League Central
Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas
September 16th, 2019
The National League’s Central Division might just be, for me at least, the most interesting of them all. I’m as AL-sided as could be, I just can’t see the interest in watching pitcher bat, but this Central division is actually pretty fun to watch. With three teams all within two games of each other heading into the final stretch, you couldn’t ask for a better end to the regular season. All the teams have at least a couple interesting players and if it weren’t for the Dodgers, well, existing, I’d have put money on the NL champs coming from the Central this year.
So… let’s do this thing. Here’s the cards for the National League Central.
St. Louis Cardinals
Red birds are up first since (as of this post) they’re currently in first. They’ve only got a two game lead in the division so next week, technically, they could be in third if they hit a cold streak. I can’t say I’d actively root for the Cardinals, not that they ever did anything to the Red Sox except give us a fairly interesting World Series win, but I’m channeling a little Astros’ favoritism today and they always beat up on the Astros in their more recent down years before joining the AL. So, yeah, not really in the top half of my list of teams to cheer for. A couple interesting players though, and Goldschmidt always seemed like a nice person, so, yeah.
Is it wrong to call the Cubs the “Red Sox of the NL”? The Dodgers are clearly the Yankees, just in terms of TV money and influence, but the Cubs were, until recently, the perennial underdogs without a big WS win. They’re only two back of the Cardinals but are looking to make a late run. Even though I think he’s been on the Cubs for longer than he was with Boston at this point, I still can’t help but root for Jon “I can’t throw to 1st base” Lester. It might have been a bit of a homer pick, but he’s my third card for the Cubs set.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The Brewers are 3 back of the Cardinals and just 1 back of the Cubs, and Chicago and St. Louis have TWO series against each other to finish the season out while the Brewers get to beat up on the Reds, Pirates and Rockies. If they can sweep those, and the Cardinals and Cubs trade wins, it could get really close, really quick and all come down to the last week of the season.
The Reds, 13.5 back of the pack and the Pirates (18.5 GB) get to play potential spoiler this year to the Brewers. The Reds have enough games left in their division to really hurt the Brewers if they can pull off some wins. The Reds also have my favorite National League player, Joey Votto. I just always felt he was a continuously under-rated player and often over looked. 6-time All Star, NL MVP, Gold Glove, and everyone seems to forget he’s even still playing. On top of that, the Reds also have Eugenio Suarez, who just hits bombs all day.
Lastly, the Pirates who, on paper, are actually better than their record would suggest. They do have a serious pitching problem, as do most teams in the MLB. If you don’t have an effective rotation, its just really impossible to put wins together against offenses that are hitting more and more home runs. I don’t really believe that the baseballs have anything to do with it, but there’s seemingly less guys who have 3+ pitches and can keep hitters guessing. If all you have is a mid-90’s fastball and a change-up/sinker, you’re going to get hammered these days. My one regret in these cards was not including Bryan Reynolds who’s been quietly putting together a great rookie season for the Pirates.
And that’s the NL Central. Stay tuned for later this week when we finish this whole thing off with the NL West!
Thanks for reading!